Five Questions With Tommy Hilfiger's New CMO

Avery Baker's Appointment Signals Shift to More Global Approach

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Earlier this month Avery Baker was promoted to the newly-created chief marketing officer role at Tommy Hilfiger. Ms. Baker, a 15-year veteran of the company, was most recently executive VP-global communications and marketing for the lifestyle brand.

Avery Baker
Avery Baker
While her day-to-day job isn't changing all that much, Ms. Baker told Ad Age that the addition of the CMO role signals the importance of marketing at Tommy Hilfiger, as well as a shift to a more global approach.

Indeed, in the last 18 months, the brand has significantly raised its profile. Last year's introducion of the fictious Hilfiger family spurred a big increase in marketing spending and a return to TV advertising. This year, marketing programs have continued to expand, as the brand rallies behind the aesthetic introduced by the motley -- and impossibly chic -- Hilfiger clan. Laird & Partners is Tommy Hilfiger's creative agency.

"Our marketing has been a very important component of the success we have enjoyed," said CEO Fred Gehring in a statement. "As our brand continues to globalize, there will be new challenges for us to effectively communicate our brand message around the world. I am confident that with the able and experienced leadership of Avery, we are very well-positioned to succeed."

Here, Ms. Baker, speaking from her office in Amsterdam, fills Ad Age in on her new role, consumer reactions to the Hilfigers and the brand's holiday push.

Ad Age : Why does it make sense for Tommy Hilfiger to have a CMO?

Ms. Baker: It's continued affirmation of the importance of innovating marketing and communication, as an important way to reach our customers. The establishment of this role underlines the continued importance of that role within our brand, particularly as we continue to expand globally.

Ad Age : How is the marketing organization evolving as a result?

Ms. Baker: It does signify some restructuring within my team. The breadth of the new title indicates the breadth of what the team is responsible for. The current organization has a global scope, but the main focus of team members has been more on North America and America in a hands on way. We're shifting to add more of a global layer in our team, so that we can really work across regions more efficiently and put increased focus on places like Asia.

Ad Age : Last year you introduced the Hilfigers, a fictitious family, in advertising. What has the family been up to lately?

Ms. Baker: We've definitely continued to evolve their story. We've taken visual cues, the spirit and attiude represented in the campaign and put it much more at the forefront of the whole brand experience. Everywhere you go now you can really see that through the store environments, even how we look online, we're communicating more cleary this unique brand position that the Hilfigers started off over a year ago.

Ad Age : How have consumers responded to the Hilfigers?

Ms. Baker: We tested the Hilfigers campaign in 12 different, diverse markets around the world. And consistently the ads had greater appeal than any in our competitive set. It's significantly impacted positive brand perception. To me that 's a real milestone, because it's very, very hard today to have a campaign that 's consistent and ultimately true to your brand values but still connects with consumers that are so diverse.

Someone just sent me a link the other day of some NYU students who were inspired to do their own version [of the new Hilfgers spot].That was a highlight for me. That's when you know it's really connected with consumers and is moving the needle in pop culture.

Ad Age : Last year the company boosted its second-half ad budget by 60% and began running TV ads for the first time since 2005. How does the media mix and budget measure up this year?

Ms. Baker: We've adjusted it a little bit. Last year it was purely a TV campaign that ran in the U.S. and a few markets in Europe. This year it's a true multimedia holiday campaign that 's running across a couple of different levels. For the first time ever we're doing dedicated holiday print ads. There's also outdoor in most key cities across Europe and New York. For TV, we added new markets where we've never before had national TV: Canada and France. We're also running TV in the U.S. Italy, Germany and Spain.

While holiday has always been important at a store level, this is really the first time we've had the ability to put a significant amount of media behind that message and link it to a holiday gift-giving campaign.

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